She chokes out a laugh. “He doesn’t want to protect me. He sent Randall here to threaten us.”
“Is that what happened? Are you sure?”
“He says no. I don’t believe him. My brother, the one I know and love, would not send Randall to threaten me, but I guess I wasn’t the compliant little girl he expected me to be. So as I said, he’s not protecting me. He’s protecting himself.” Her voice lifts, and it’s clear that she’s in that same emotional hellhole that I was in earlier over that DNA test. And I damn sure didn’t want an audience for that.
“Savage,” I say, over my shoulder, motioning him to the door.
“Get lost,” Savage says. “Got it.” He moves to stand beside us. “But before you get rid of me, we have a problem that just hit my phone. That hotel mogul prick Sawyer is giving Jill an uncomfortable amount of attention. What do you want to do?”
“I don’t really give a damn right now, Savage,” I say. “Just handle it.”
“Got it,” Savage says, but as he heads for the door, Emma grabs his arm. “Wait.”
She looks at me. “This isn’t going to end well. Chance could pull your whiskey from our hotels. Don’t piss off Sawyer. You need your brand to be in his hotels.”
She wants me to protect my relationship with Sawyer. A man who represents one of her largest competitors as a family brand. A man she knows that I planned to use to hurt her brand. She is a Knight like no other, that’s for damn sure. “Please,” she adds and then casts Savage a look. “Please.”
“A whiskey tray that ‘accidentally’ turned over on him it is,” he says. “A sad waste of booze, but a no blame game. I’ll go watch the show.” He heads for the door.
Now Emma grabs my arm. “Jax, damn it. Don’t let Savage piss him off. You need the Sawyer brand if you lose the Knight brand.”
“Savage will handle him, and you and I both need to stop underestimating our whiskey, baby, It’s elite, and Sawyer would be damn lucky to have it in his hotels.”
I lean in and kiss her. “Let me lock up, baby. Then we’ll talk. Okay?”
She nods and I take her coat from her, which is actually my coat. “I like you in my coat,” I say, “but you might need to grow into it.”
She doesn’t laugh. She grabs her phone from the pocket and curls forward, hugging herself. A protective posture that’s understandable after that call and this night. I cross to the door, and once I’ve slid the bolt into place, I turn to find her standing right where she was, waiting on me, back in fight mode. “You aren’t getting how serious what happened on that call is, Jax. It wasn’t just a lie or a lame threat sent by messenger that we’ve now confirmed came from my brother. Chance is afraid of you. And he was my father’s protégé. My father always said ‘strike first or die.’ He’s going to come at you. He kept telling me to come home. Three times he told me to come home. He’s coming for you, and he wants me out of here before he does. And yet, I don’t know if me staying makes this better or worse for you. Maybe me staying pisses him off and motivates him to come at you harder.”
I close the space between us, my hands coming down on her shoulders. “Do you want to leave?”
“You know I don’t.”
“Then don’t go,” I say.
“It’s not that simple.”
“It’s as simple as we make it.”
“Chance believes you have a reason to come at him,” she argues. “He even checked on Hunter’s cause of death. He might not have killed Hunter, but he’s covering up something about it. My father. It must have been my father.” Her eyes go wide. “That journal entry: We’re better off with him dead. Or whatever his exact, horrible words were had to be referring to Hunter.” She tries to pull away.
I catch her and hold her to me. “Where are you going?”
“I need to read that entry again.”
“No.” I slide my hand under her hair and around her neck then lean in closer. “Let it go, baby. You’ve read it a hundred times.”
“We need to know what happened.”
“That journal won’t give us any answers, and we can’t change anything tonight anyway. Just be here with me.”
“Because I won’t be later?”
“If you leave, baby, I will follow. I will run the fuck after you.”
“We so fucking can.”
“We can.” I kiss her and stroke the dampness from her lips. “We can. I meant what I said earlier. I want you with me, Emma. And you want to be with me.”
“Don’t fight us. Fight them.” And with that, I’m done talking and so is she, even if she doesn’t know it yet. My mouth slants over hers, my tongue stroking long and deep, drinking her in, breaking down her resistance. For a moment, just the briefest of moments, she resists, but then she is kissing me, and she’s all in. I think I’ve won but then there is desperation bleeding into her kiss, onto her tongue, onto mine. I taste it. I feel it. This is not about her claiming us; it’s about her saying goodbye, and it pisses me off.